My AQHA Story

AQHA Marketing Intern Amber Hammes reflects on how she got started with Quarter Horses.

America’s Horse Daily—The AQHA Intern Experience

Amber and Zippos Tax Time. Photo Credit: Sheila Beckman

Every horse person has a story. You know the story of how they got their first pony for Christmas when they were 7, or how the neighbor down the road let them ride their horses? Everyone has a story, and this is mine.

I wasn’t born into a horse family. My family grows corn and soybeans in central Iowa, along with various livestock species. When I was 5, my aunt begged my parents to let her take me for a week during the summer. She had a bay American Quarter Horse gelding named Zippos Tax Time, and even at the ripe old age of 5, I was an animal lover. Needless to say, the first time “Zippo’s” velvety muzzle touched my hand, I was hooked.

Fast forward nine years. When I was 14, my parents finally gave in and helped me buy my first horse. I had been taking lessons at a local barn for several years and longing for my own horse for quite some time. My first horse taught me a lot about perseverance and helped me discover myself as I went through those awkward teenage years.

I began showing on the local level and soon realized that my mare was not fit for my interests and goals. I decided to sell her and buy a 2-year-old gelding named Your My Chex. He’s bay (I have a thing for bay Quarter Horses), and there was something special about him that I just couldn’t put my finger on. My wonderful instructors taught me how to teach “Winston,” and in turn, he taught me everything there is to know about handling a young horse.

Winston has carried me through so many trials and tribulations in life. He is my rock and source of constant support. I love talking to people about their Quarter Horses because I have found that this is true for a lot of us. There truly is not another breed out there so giving and versatile.

When I went to college, I was fortunate that my parents allowed me to bring Winston along. My Dad jokes that it’s like having two kids in college, but I can’t imagine my college experience without Winston being my stress reliever.

As my junior year rolled around, I began to consider my options for internships and eventually full-time jobs upon graduation. This brought on more questions about my future career that I didn’t have the answers to at the time. (But really, who does?) Several days later while I was perusing Facebook, I stopped dead in my tracks as the words “AQHA” and “internship” flashed across my screen. The American Quarter Horse Association Facebook page had posted that there were only a few days before applications were due for Spring 2016 internships with the American Quarter Horse Association. I had my application sent in by the end of the day.

Three months later, I sit in my cubicle at the AQHA International Headquarters in Amarillo. Winston didn’t get to come with me, but I am very excited for the months ahead as I work and learn alongside the people who passionately uphold the Quarter Horse breed and strive to provide quality service to AQHA and AQHYA members.

My AQHA story has led me on some pretty amazing adventures. And, yes, it has been peppered with a few not-so-great memories. Nevertheless, it has made me who I am today. Share your #AQHAStory with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.